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Patagonia Dreaming Part 2 (Thanks for waiting!)

How big is big?  What is the Scale of things. Does size really matter.

On the way in to El Chalten, looking out the bus window. We were lucky to have superb clear weather. This allowed us to enjoy the  magical view of the Patagonian Mts. Surreal! This is something that use to only existed in magazines or climbing videos. There they are.


on the drive into the national park.

Photo by Vanessa Out the front of the Bus

I had heard of plenty of stories of people spending 2 whole weeks in the area and not even seeing the top of the Peaks.

And there they were. A good Omen.

Staring, drooling and dreaming of things to come. It is hard to get a correct perspective. They look fairly close, they don’t look that big, or are they. We will be playing amongst them and maybe sitting on top of them in no time. Hmm! Fingers crossed.

Realistically taking into account the reputation of how bad the weather can get, the minimum goal was just to see and admire the unique formation, and hopefully walk up amongst them. TICK the first day we came we saw. That is what most tourist do.

We ain’t no tourists.

PROOF? – Photo’s of pretty things in Buenos Aires, Zero. Photos of old things (old buildings), Zero.

Photos & Footage of ROCK & Climbing. 20+Giga bytes. Totally valid in my eyes.

Tangoing is for Tourists.

Another Item on the to do list, was to climb! Preferably Rock Climbing. The first priority is to climb ON and amongst the jutting granite massifs of the Cerro Torre and Fitzroy area.

Plan in Action

As a result of Vanessa using her fabulous Spanish(600% better than Dave’s or mine) we found a humble home base. We tracked down a guide book and checked the weather. with a short weather window open we decide to head up into the Torre Valley.

Its Amazing how much confidence you can gain from just a few photos and a vague route description in a guide book. The better the photos the better the psyche.

My opinion  is Guide books are  designed to influence you subconsciously to boost your confidence in yourself to the fact that yes you can.

patagonia rock climbing guide book

patagonia rock climbing guide book


CHARRRRRGE!! The weather window looked like it was going to give us 2 to 3 days of suitable weather.

Inspired with a new guide book which contained lots of pictures. Traded a few hundred Pesos for some food, filled the back packs up to the brim and beyond. Then we would soon be off to play.

The next morning we were up early for the casual twenty something Kilometre stroll up the valley, following the Rio Fitz Roy River upstream. A final look at the weather report, it said that the end of the good weather had moved a day ahead. So we would walk up in good weather but the following day want be so good. We will see. And still decided to go up and have look. At least take a load of equipment up to a base camp.


Tyrolean traverse  Jason Piper Tyrolean traverse accross. heading  for the land of the scree. Patagonia Climbing

Jason Piper Tyrolean traverse across heading for the land of the scree.


The first part of the trail was a highly used tourist track up to the Lagoon Torre (Torre Lagoon). Crossing the river is major obstacle. Lucky there is a permanent Tyrolean line across. It was a lot of fun something you don’t do every day. We were very happy with the ride across the river. It was like a signal that the normal tourist trail had ended and only the serious Mountain adventures were to go passed.

Jason Piper Tyrolean traverse accross. heading  for the land of the scree. Patagonia. climbing. Dave Gray, Vanessa Wills

There she blows.
The smoky mountains. Team Newcastle. Dave Gray, Vanessa Wills and Jason Piper


After the Tyrolean, the best ride in the park so far we were on our way. On our way to become well educated SCREEologists. The season had been friendlier than most Patagonia summer’s, the snow line was quite high and left a lot of  fallen rock scattered on the valley floor. Fondly called scree. After a hand over hand descent down a steep loose scree slope on a fixed rope we could just make out a compacted track amongst the scree which lead up to the Glacier

Dave at back Vanessa in foreground, at one with the scree.


Let the scree Games begin.

Scree is the greyish tinge to the silver lining of gorgeous mountains

Scree brings out the better in you.

Scree walking is character  building

Scree is snowless skiing,

Scree is the mountain letting itself go free.

Scree is awesome.



For perspective  Pevious pictue is within the Red Circle

For perspective
Previous picture is within the Red Circle. The red line route taken.



After the Scree-atholon we were at the base of the Grand Glacier (Glaciar Grande) which also has the Torre Glacier join into it. That’s where we were headed. Strapped on the Crampons then jumped on the Glacier. OHH Man there is even scree on the glacier. They do give it a different name though, Moraine they call it. Hmmmmph! Its still scree to me.

Finally over the scree we  come to some clean ice to walk on. Stable footing makes it much easier to look up more often to appreciate the view of the magic environment were in



Patagonia Rock Climbing

Perspective with a snap of a bit of rock from Australia we call a MT compared to a simple spire in Patagonia. The red line a the route taken.


Walking upon the glacier was very surreal for an Australian. “We don’t get this back home” a naturally bright super high way.


Photo taken from the Glaciar

Photo taken from the Glaciar


Crossing more moraine then white goodness then more moraine. Somewhere among the moraine is supposed to be Nipponino, our camp. Coming close to the 10hr mark of hiking we were close to camp. Feeling tired, bothered, buggered and just wanting to get there. We scattered off in various directions trying to find this place among the rocks and scree. The Oasis, La Plague the beach. Finally the red flag was found and flat ground along with it.

10hrs walk compared to the 6hrs which was written in the guide. hmm?!!

By the time we made it to camp the weather had already started to cover over us. We battened down the hatches and braced ourselves for some famous Patagonian weather that we have been hearing and worried about.

“I wish I had more guy ropes on my tent.” My body weigh and the weight of my pack should stop us from being blown away.

Camping at Nippanino. The small bit of rock in background is the size of Mt Bluff in warrrumbungles NSW

Camping at Nippanino.
The small bit of rock in background is the size of Bluff Mountain in the Warrrumbungles, NSW

We made it through the night with out any drama, just a little dusting of snow, but woke up to a valley of mist and unpleasant looking weather. And we knew from the forecasts that there was more coming through. It was a no-brainer that we head back down into town.

So we stashed some of our gear Tents, climbing gear and stove etc, in a small cave. Ready to await or return back up for our next visit.


Back on the scree again with ordinary weather in background

Back on the scree again with ordinary weather in background



Vanessa sliding back accross the trollian


It was great to up amongst the mountains for just a taste. It was hard to gain a proper perspective.

How big is big?  What is the Scale of things. Does size really matter.

We would only find out truly how big this peaks are once we start to climb on them. Next time, soon. Once we were back in el Chalten. Showered cleaned and went for a feed, Our next challenge.

How big is Big. Does size really matter.

How big is Big. Does size really matter.


After carrying a huge weighted pack on my back, a huge pizza in the belly should balance things out.

Climbing action coming in Part 3